April 12, 2015

In Their Own Words XXXII: God Is The Means and The Ends

“Knowing there is a world that will outlive you, there are people whose well-being depends on how you live your life, affects the way you live your life, whether or not you directly experience those effects. You want to be the kind of person who has the larger view, who takes other people’s interests into account, who’s dedicated to the principles that you can justify, like justice, knowledge, truth, beauty and morality.”  – Steven Pinker, Cognitive Scientist

This will be a difficult read to slog through but hopefully it will payoff for the reader. 

Although I agree with Steven Pinker's sentiment, I disagree with his godless methodology for getting to the end result (which he doesn't state but his belief system shows me). Like him, I believe there needs to be a Deontological Ethic/Aesthetic . 

Deontological Ethics simply means an ethic that judges the morality of an action based on the action's adherence to a rule or rules. Pinker and I part ways on what rules need to be adhered to. He believes man's rules devoid of God are to be followed. I believe that God's rules and principles should be followed.  

Right from the beginning we see that Pinker believes mankind can be just and make proper moral decisions. They cannot. How do I know for certain that Pinker believes a man should be the measure of these attributes? Simple, he is a supporter of secular humanism. He has also been on the advisory boards of both the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Secular Coalition for America.  

The truth is that as we drift from God, justice in the courts is being perverted more and more. A majority of our judicial system doesn’t even adhere to an idea of moral/natural law anymore when arriving at judgments. As a matter of fact, it was the topic of natural law that was a sticking point during the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas in the early 1990's (just ask Joe Biden who was grilling Justice Thomas on this exact issue). 

Furthermore, US Supreme Court Justice Scalia was known to have said that the Courts cannot or should not legislate morality. In “Mullahs of the West: Judges as Moral Arbiters,” Justice Antonin Scalia told the North Carolina Bar Association that the court has no place acting as a “judge moralist” in issues better left to the people. Since judges aren’t qualified—or constitutionally authorized—to set moral standards, he argued, the people should decide what’s morally acceptable. In this way he copped out and was rather spineless for a conservative justice. If there is anything you can legislate to improve society...its morality. So, if they’re not legislating morality or basing the lex terrae in a true moral (Godly) underpinning, what are they basing rules/rulings on? You guessed it, they are basing it on something other than God. They are basing justice in man himself. It is called positive law. Believe it or not, Joe Biden is not as dopey as he acts, hence his grilling of Thomas.

Positive law/ius positum is just a fancy name to describe man-made laws that oblige or specify an action. It also describes the establishment of specific rights for an individual or group. The laws of the land that guide this nation therefore are now primarily based on the whims of sinful men or on case precedents divorced from God. The justices and leaders who base their morality and values on a man-based value system therefore leave themselves open to horrible corruption. They are people adrift on a sea of immorality without a true moral compass or true moral anchor.

Deuteronomy 16:19 ~ “You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous.”

1 Samuel 8:3 ~ “Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.”

Ecclesiastes 5:8 ~ If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness,  do not be amazed at the matter,  for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them.

Ecclesiastes 5:8 actually gets to the heart of the matter when it comes to judges and rulers perverting or upholding justice. God tells us not to be surprised if there is perversion of justice in leaders. Pinker's idea of a person or persons needing to be principled in true justice is a moot point. A person cannot have an idea of true perfect justice devoid of the God of Scripture. If God does not back justice, it isn't true or absolute justice. God is the only perfect measure of morality, knowledge and justice. 

Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised that courts often pervert and bend justice in favor of bias, preconceptions or even prejudices. Although Pinker believes man is obliged to act morally and justly does not mean they are capable of doing so. Quite the contrary. Man is by his nature sinful and prone to sin. The Ecclesiastes verse shows a progression of accountability that eventually leads to God. Whether or not atheistic/agnostic leaders or intellectuals admit there is a God or are willing to submit to His measure of morality is irrelevant. They will eventually answer to God and be judged by Him whether they believe He exists or not. Their failure to acknowledge His existence indeed shows their inability to make proper decisions. 

The Bible is clear that the rulers and leaders will be judged more harshly. That is because they have more of an impact and influence on a greater amount of people and should always be addressed first. If one man can so greatly affect a multitude it behooves us to correct the morals and ethics of a nation at the individual level to affect a change on the nation at large. As Jesus showed, true change starts one heart at a time. If we change the hearts of individuals one at a time, this in turn changes the masses. In this way the Kingdom of God overcomes the kingdom of world. It is in this way that Jesus did indeed overcome the world and continues to do so. He changes one heart at a time and turns that heart towards the Gospel.

John 16:33 ~ "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

We can change the world but it will not be through a man-made court system or government. True Godly change will never come to society as a whole if society is falling away from God. The positive changes Pinker refers to need to start within one person at a time by the Spirit of God or there will be no permanent societal change. This is how the Kingdom of God takes effect. There can be no Kingdom if there is no King allowed to reign in each individual's life.

Finally, we approach the idea of true knowledge and truth itself. Is truth possible absent God? Yes, but it will only be subjective or relative truth. This is why postmodernism is rampantly overtaking the modern world. God is gone so relativistic knowledge reigns in His place. Information and how it is used is a matter of interpretation. Postmodernism essentially adheres to a philosophy that says words do not have definitive meanings. It says that the words or terms themselves have no true absolute bearing in our lives. 

To a postmodernist, words or symbols at best are abstract and nebulous concepts that cannot be defined by either/or only maybes. It would suffice to say that postmodernism likes to deny absolute truths and to deconstruct words until they have either no meaning or a meaning not in adherence to a correct definition. It has long been understood that if you can control the terms or words you control the beliefs and ideas. If you control ideas you control the way people think. If you control the way people think you can control their actions. The Bible said it this way…

Isaiah 5:20 ~ “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

Therefore it needs to be understood that the justice, knowledge, truth, beauty and morality of things is directly affected by the presuppositions of the observer.  Man being flawed will always tend towards injustice, immorality, corrupted truth and perverted beauty. For Pinker to say that a man should be the measure of things like knowledge and truth assumes that a man could do so properly. He cannot because his knowledge is based in relativism. Men can only poorly imitate God which in turn produces flawed results. 

Men will tend towards their fallen sinful condition. By returning God to the equation we return the perfect measure of beauty, perfect morality, the perfect judge and the perfect measure of truth. Atheists, agnostics and followers of false religions (like Secular Humanism) cannot truly understand true wisdom/knowledge. They cannot be truly moral, nor can they make just decisions. Additionally, they are poor judges of true beauty as define by the God of the Bible. 

That is because they do not know the God of the Bible. They are quite simply...blind.

So the bottom-line about Pinker's quote looks like this. True wisdom starts with a fear of God. There is no true beauty without God and love. God has told us that He is the truth. Real knowledge starts with God. Pinker believes none of these things. Therefore we need to ask ourselves a question about Pinker's original statement. Are Pinker's ideas and understanding of morality and truth philosophically valid as an atheist? I suggest not. Nor is it logical.

Ecclesiastes 3:11~ “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

Proverbs 1:7 ~ “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

As Immanuel Kant once said in his Categorical Imperative, man is not a means to an end, he needs to be the end. Pinker seems to be shape-shifting in an out of both of these philosophies with his quote because he is using man to gain the only knowledge he finds acceptable (empirical) and it seems he also has man in mind for an ends (to give the empirical evidence to). 

On the other hand, I will state unequivocally: 

Man isn't the means or even the ends to which we need to gain knowledge. God is the means and the end to which we live our life. 

Without God we cease to have ultimate meaning and Nietzschean nihilistic philosophy would therefore end up being correct in a self fulfilling man-made prophecy. Without God, life would have no meaning. For the Christian, knowledge has to be ascertained in light of God or the knowledge and truth ceases to have any relevant meaning (especially for a Christian). True knowledge is not gleaned from our lives devoid of God just as true value, justice and truth isn't gained devoid of God. If it is...it really isn't knowledge, justice and truth, because partial godless bias was used to gain it. Partial knowledge being that the person denies God's existence. To deny God is to deny an ultimate and absolute Law Giver and ultimate just Judge. These are two things man could never be ...as history has repeatedly shown.

I don’t know about you the reader but I believe I’ll stick to the Bible when it comes to defining these things. The Bible has the better track record when it comes to creating or shaping moral, just and beautiful people. Conversely, today’s culture and society has done a successful job of creating nothing more than godless, mindless, immoral and loveless monsters. 

Thanks....but no thanks. Joe Biden and the US court system can keep its positive law. The historians can keep their revisionist history. The postmodernist can keep their minimalist non-linear art and nebulous thinking. I will keep the rock-solid assurance of the Gospel and the truth of the Scriptures if only because of the One who backs their validity.

Paulson, Steve. "Proud Atheists." Saloncom RSS. Salon Media Group, Inc, 15 Oct. 2007. Web. 16 Nov. 2014. http://www.salon.com/2007/10/15/pinker_ goldstein/

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